Keys to Creating a Culture of Greatness: Straight Talk

Greatness is an easy concept to understand.  But very few teams are able to make that leap.

About two years ago our team chose a core value of excellence.  We understood what that looked like.  But we didn’t yet know how to make that real.  Today we are still learning the keys that unlock a culture of greatness.  Straight talk is one of those keys.

Straight talk isn’t about making people feel bad.  But it IS about having real, honest, to the point, as soon as possible discussions about – well – everything. Committing to excellence is requiring us to change the way we talk to each other – to get comfortable with speaking and receiving straight talk.

In his book "Leading with the Heart,” Coach K describes in-game straight talk. After seeing a breakdown in execution he calls a time out.  The players gather around him.  

“Ok who was responsible for boxing out 21?”  

“Me coach.”  

"You didn’t seal him out.  He got the rebound and scored.  You can’t let that happen again.  Your team is counting on you to do your job.  Can they count on you?”

“Yes coach – won’t happen again.”

Coach K’s approach is direct, fast and unapologetic.  He called the failure out right in front of the team, and the TV cameras.   The player chose to receive that directness and take responsibility.  He didn’t pout, hang his head or get embarrassed.  He received it, owned it and headed back in, determined that next time would be different.  That takes incredible trust.  Greatness doesn’t come if we can’t take the heat of straight talk.

Straight talk is:

  • honest, blunt and to the point
  • respectful, but not sugar coated
  • doesn’t hold back because it might hurt someone’s feelings
  • not filled with words to soften the blow
  • is honest as soon as possible
  • not waiting for convenience
  • opens us to the highest standards and our highest potential
  • is based on deep trust of each other
  • choosing to believe best intentions

Straight talk is something that our team is just getting started with.  But we must go there.  We need everyone speaking straight talk.  We need every team member growing into receiving straight talk. When we chose excellence as our core value, we chose the hard things that it requires.  I believe our team is up to the challenge – that we can do the hard things.  

Could straight talk transform your team?  Greatness awaits.